Butt out of your car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On the Web - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au This re­porter is on Twit­ter @paulward­gover

‘‘ WHAT­EVER you do, just don’t smoke.’’ The ad­vice didn’t help ac­tor Yul Bryn­ner, who sounded the warn­ing af­ter con­tract­ing a fa­tal can­cer, but it could help you at trade-in time. Keep­ing to­bacco smoke away from your car’s cabin is likely to add hun­dreds, even thou­sands, to its price— as well as pre­serv­ing your health.

A friend of Cars­guide emails this week to raise the ques­tion of smok­ing in cars, af­ter an in­ter­est­ing en­counter on his morn­ing com­mute.

‘‘ I saw a woman in a brand­new BMW5 Se­ries smok­ing her lungs out with all the win­dows up and pon­dered if this would af­fect re­sale. I reckon a non-smoker’s car must be worth more,’’ he says.

Ac­cord­ing to Rashad Parkar of Glass’s Guide, the au­thor­ity on sec­ond­hand val­ues: ‘‘ We be­lieve that . . . cig­a­rette marks or dam­aged up­hol­stery due to smok­ing this will def­i­nitely have a detri­men­tal im­pact on resid­ual val­ues.’’

The only se­ri­ous study we can find on the sub­ject is from San Diego in 2008. It says a smoker’s car would be worth up to 9 per cent less in the US.

Sur­pris­ingly, more than 20 per cent of cars for sale were owned by smok­ers or had been smoked in dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year. More than 90 per cent of non-smok­ers banned any sort of to­bacco in their cars.

The study— funded by an anti-to­bacco group so it needs to be put into con­text— lists more than 4000 chem­i­cals in sec­ond­hand smoke and nico­tine lev­els 30 times higher in smoker’s cars than to­bacco- free ex­am­ples. ‘‘ In the en­closed en­vi­ron­ments of pas­sen­ger cars, air con­cen­tra­tions of to­bacco smoke pol­lu­tants can be­come ex­tremely high,’’ says Pene­lope Quin­tana, one of the study’s au­thors and a pro­fes­sor in the school of pub­lic health in San Diego State Univer­sity.

Many of the pol­lu­tants at­tach to sur­faces and ac­cu­mu­late in duster form where they can be re­leased back into the air over days and weeks af­ter smok­ing.

The chang­ing at­ti­tude is also re­flected in the way car com­pa­nies look at smok­ing. Th­ese days, many cars do not have an ash­tray and the cig­a­rette lighter has be­come a power socket.

It’s a con­trast to the days when Jaguar had iden­ti­cal chromed ash re­cep­ta­cles at three points in its XJ limou­sine, al­low­ing the owner to ro­tate them un­til all three were choked and need­ing a full clean out.

A cig­a­rette lighter in a BMW costs ex­tra. And it’s been that way for years.

But power sock­ets are spread­ing faster than nico­tine ad­dic­tion and most cars have at least three, with the high­est plug-in count we’ve dis­cov­ered be­ing six, in an Amer­i­can SUV. Cig­a­rettes are on the way out but now we’re plug­ging in phone charg­ers and GPS sys­tems daily, as well as rearseat en­ter­tain­ment and— once again, in the US— bev­er­age warm­ers for the gi­ant cof­fee con­tain­ers that seem com­pul­sory for com­muters.

But we still have to ask whether we’re swap­ping one dan­ger for an­other— by stubbing out the cig­a­rette threat but plug­ging in gi­ant dis­trac­tions that can eas­ily lead to more trou­ble than a slump in the sec­ond­hand price.

Tarred road: Anti-to­bacco ac­tivists put 200,000 smokes to good use in

this protest ve­hi­cle

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